I call these flowers my miracle marigolds, as the flowers overcame adversity and came back to life, after being on the brink of wilting away and never displaying their vibrant oranges and yellows ever again. In lieu of training while I was injured, I took up a little gardening to help fill my days; I first planted a half dozen marigolds in two long rectangular containers at the end of May. The beautiful colors brightened the deck and my day, I felt very proud of my mini garden.
A month later, when I was packing up and moving home, I fought back tears as I snuck the marigolds in the back of my van. Once I was back at home, I found the perfect spot for the flowers on the deck where they would get plenty of sunlight and my family could enjoy their beauty. I watered them daily, giving them the care I thought they needed, but suddenly the flowers began to deteriorate. I tried giving them more water, and then less water, but to no avail. The flowers shriveled up and the leaves turned brown; the marigolds were dying, and it seemed like there was nothing I could do to save them.
I felt defeated and distraught; I thought I had treated them well and was out of ideas on how to bring the marigolds back to life. Then came the looming threat of dumping the flowers in the compost pile, and my parents said “Emily, it is time to say goodbye.” But I protested, I felt I had to do something. Then my mom suggested that I could plant them in the ground, so I decided to give the flowers, which had become completely browned and wilted, another chance at life.
One Saturday afternoon in July, after my first ride longer than 2 hours, I picked a spot in the garden bed and I dug a hole. It was hard work digging through dehydrated soil that was as hard as concrete. I also had to work around a network of roots from a nearby tree. Sweat poured down my face, and I became covered in dirt from head to toe, but I completed the task at hand.
When I removed the marigolds from the containers the roots were twisted and tortuous. It was evident that the flowers were not given the space needed to grow and thrive; they had suffocated in the confines of the flower pot. I felt a glimmer of hope that their new environment would provide the marigolds with all that was needed to survive.
Then I waited, and waited, and waited. I watered the flowers occasionally, but mostly did not intervene and let nature run its course. The marigolds appeared lifeless for many weeks, but one day as I was heading out for a run in early September I noticed a little peek of yellow. One of the plants was flowering! Two more followed shortly after, and I had three survivors. I pulled the dead flowers from the ground without any feelings of sadness because I still had a success story, a miracle in the making. More blooms appeared, and I got to enjoy the cheerful flowers every time I left the house. They survived up until the second frost of the year, a true symbol of resilience.
The marigolds provided me with a sense of optimism and inspired me before each workout. I also felt that the flowers were a metaphor for my life. Their growth was restricted by the confines of a container, and once freed and replanted in the earth they were given a new life. The marigolds were on the brink of death in a toxic environment, and once replanted to a nurturing environment the flowers received the nourishment they needed to survive and thrive.
There is hope in the future.